What autumn means for some people

Hongkou worker wall

Was it only weeks ago that I was standing in the same intersection, trapped in a swirling dustbowl of construction, watching the team of leathery workers drill their way around a sewage pipe?

The sun was beating down with a fury, its rays so piercing that my camera felt like a heat conducting missile. The workers’ dark skin glistened under the sun as I watched (and whimpered) in the shade. The smell of sewage was indescribable, but oh wait, I’ll try anyway. Putrefying.

Fast forward to late September, Shanghai declared a triumphant end to what has been a rather tame (by historical comparison) summer and embraced autumn with open arms.

The city has settled into a comfortably cool sphere of lazy afternoon breezes and occasional evening chills. Yet it was odd to see a contradiction of dressing in the streets made up of mini-skirts with jackets, boots with cotton tops and long-sleeved shirts paired with cut-offs, as if no one has quite made up their mind about the weather.

But for many construction workers, the choice of clothing is less complicated. Autumn meant the same coat but with less layers underneath. Otherwise, it is the same company-issued shirt, the same pair of pants and the same pair of boots.

One worker remarked that the days feel no different and they all meld slowly into months. The slow dip in temperatures meant more languid chats outside dormitary rooms rather than inside. But they remain boxed into the construction zone and were rarely allowed to linger outside for too long.

For some, autumn mattered littled. Rather, the long and cold journey home early next year is already in the back of their minds. Winter is not even upon us. But that’s how fast time flies.

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6 Comments

  • Reply September 29, 2011

    Chris

    it’s been a long time since you last treated us with sensible text and great pictures with lots of life and emotions inside on this blog! It feels good- thank you

    • Reply September 30, 2011

      Sue Anne

      @Chris @Gina Thanks very much, it’s very sweet of you to say. My lack of substantial posts is quite evident. I’ve had the darnest of writing blocs and while I continue to shoot, it’s been getting harder to convey them in words. I think a trip out of the country and fresh return to the city will help unknot this dilemma.

  • Reply September 29, 2011

    Gina

    I agree with Chris:)I enjoy your reflections on the observations of people in Shanghai.

  • Reply October 3, 2011

    Zheng Wang

    Enjoyed this post very much, as usual, thanks. Sometimes even without words to convey your pictures in word, the pictures alone would able to convey the feeling of that moment, love to see more :)

    • Reply October 3, 2011

      Sue Anne

      Hello there! Are you back in Australia? It was very nice to meet you and your friend the last time. I hope you enjoyed the walk. See you back in Shanghai soon I hope!

  • Reply October 6, 2011

    Zheng Wang

    Hi Sue,
    Thanks again for organising the walk, we really enjoyed. Im back in Australia now, may come back next year :)

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